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Innovation

Forum for Dynamic Innovation at Columbia Event January 10

The last few years have seen a resurgence of what Steve Blank and other startups folks call ‘innovation theater‘.  On January 10, I’ll be chatting with Steve and transformative CEO of HarperCollins, Brian Murray, about what comes next. You can read about the event details and register at this link.  Under the heading the ‘Forum for Dynamic Innovation,’ we are bringing together people across the university with an interest in how... read more »

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Growth insights in a 45 minute Facebook live session!

No Powerpoints, no notes, just the team at Harvard Business Review, terrific and astute questions from viewers and a white board.  Check out this free Facebook Live session that has already garnered over 132,000 views. In more news – For those with an interest, our Mastering Corporate Entrepreneurship OnLine course is now in beta – let us know if you would like to join as registrations close next week. And it is already looking... read more »

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Innovation and Jobs-to-be-Done discussed in my latest newsletter

My latest newsletter offers observations and ideas that were discussed at two CEO Summits sponsored by Innosight and featuring keynotes by Clayton Christensen and myself.   We discussed Clay’s terrific new book, Competing Against Luck, some of my ideas regarding the management of portfolios of innovation and how to tackle innovation challenges generally. Have a look if you are interested – and I welcome comments and feedback! read more »

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Preparing for the 8th Annual Drucker Forum

A few years ago, I started attending the Global Peter Drucker Forum, which has become a real who’s who of management conferences.  It takes place each November in Vienna and features luminaries and thought leaders from academia, business and consulting.  This time out, I’ll be facilitating a panel discussion with Tim Brown of IDEO, Sarah Armbruster of the very innovative Steelcase, colleague Julian Birkinshaw of the London Business School and... read more »

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What a startup can learn about customer needs from a medieval practice

In a recent article over at Fortune, I explore what Transferwise, a fast-growing new startup has rediscovered:  an enduring customer need that is currently featuring in the migrant crisis, Hawala.  The practice of Hawala originated centuries ago when traders were concerned that they would be waylaid by bandits along their routes of travel.  So they worked out a trust-based practice in which a party in one location would receive a payment, and a trusted... read more »

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Implications of the Unicorn Economy

In my most recent newsletter, I suggested that businesses would do well to anticipate the consequences of a valuation bubble bursting in Silicon Valley with so many private companies valued at more than a billion dollars, with few signs that the investor spigot is going to turn off anytime soon.  I ran across this great article by Mark Littlewood of Business of Software conference fame that adds additional support to... read more »

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Ideas for a new business model for F. A. O. Schwarz

Well, no sooner had the digital ink dried on my piece about F. A. O. Schwarz closing their famous Fifth Avenue shop, when I received a communication from the company saying that I had it all wrong.  They said “The company is completely committed to building on the legacy of the FAO Schwarz brand through a flagship location in midtown Manhattan and unique merchandising offerings.”  Which sounds wonderful, and will... read more »

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Looking forward to the mach49 Mothership Blitz on Friday

As someone who has spent much of my life watching organizations fall victim to what I call the ‘transient advantage‘ economy, I’ve always been puzzled that despite its obvious importance, large organizations do a lot more talking about innovation than actually doing it.  When you dig a little deeper, what quickly becomes clear is that most of the factors that inhibit innovation success – fear of failure, inadequate funding or structures,... read more »

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Don’t listen to what your customers say, watch how they behave

I am often asked by companies with whom I work whether focus groups, surveys or customer panels are useful in learning what customers want and more importantly, what they will pay for.  Sure, these techniques are helpful and sometimes can lead to useful insights. But it is usually a huge strategic mistake to base investment decisions or innovation projects on data gathered through these means.  Why?  A benign explanation is... read more »

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What trends fuel the disruption list for 2014?

It was really fun to be part of CNBC’s advisory panel to choose the most disruptive 50 companies of the year.  The full list for 2014 can be found at this link. Some of the companies reflect trends that I think will be fundamentally reshaping the way business is done in the coming years, some of which I featured in The End of Competitive Advantage. Access to Assets, not ownership... read more »

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How do we get our middle managers back into a growth mindset?

It’s been five or more years since the Great recession walloped economies all over the world, with the result that for many companies it has been a time of doing not very much but cost-cutting, downsizing, divesting and otherwise holding on to what business they can by their fingernails.  Now, as things are slowly starting to pick up and companies are beginning to once again see opportunities, they are facing... read more »

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Continuous reconfiguration – commended paper by Emerald Insight

Emerald Insight commended the research behind a recent paper, Continuous Reconfiguration in the Transient Advantage Economy.  In a nutshell, what I found was that firms that were capable of delivering consistent performance over a relatively long period of time did not tend to have dramatic downsizings, firings or major restructuring.  What you see instead is that they change in small ways, but with a quick pace.  In fact, you don’t... read more »

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Ron Adner’s response to my “Better Place” question

As promised, I asked Ron what he thought about A Better Place, a company that I'm very struck with that has the potential to transform our relationship with energy.  Turns out he'd given them a lot of thought already – here's what he said:   To date, the electric car has been a poster child for ecosystem mismanagement.  We’ve seen a lot of great innovation in the individual pieces: improved... read more »

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Ron Adner’s great new book “The Wide Lens” highlights two important risks for innovation

My good friend (and sometime intellectual sparring partner), Ron Adner, has just released a new book, the Wide Lens, which highlights a major problem for companies seeking to innovate:  The essence is that they focus too narrowly on the admittedly difficult job of getting their own innovations up to speed, while ignoring two other ecosystem based challenges that have to be overcome if an innovation is to truly take off.  The... read more »

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Scott Anthony’s “Little Black Book” is a must-read for corporate innovators

I am diving with great delight into my good friend Scott Anthony's latest book, The Little Black Book of Innovation.  It's a great book which distills a huge amount of what we know works into an approachable format that is direct, action-oriented and very sound.  Here is some advice from me.  If you are trying to launch an innovation program in a large corporation, run, do not walk, to your... read more »

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